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Flexible retirement

Flexible retirement

Members of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), and the University of Reading Employees' Pension Fund (UREPF) have the option to take flexible retirement.

Flexible retirement is where a member of staff can continue to work but would take a reduction in salary by working reduced hours in exchange for payment of a portion of their pension. This mix of work and pension can offer an attractive way of tapering towards an eventual full retirement.

You can take up to 80% of your pension benefits as long as you agree to reduce your hours and salary by at least 20%. If you are a member of USS, you can flexibly retire and change your working hours on a maximum of two occasions before having to retire fully. Members of UREPF can retire flexibly on one occasion before having to retire fully. If you hold multiple posts, please contact the Pensions Office for further information. Your pension will be reduced for early payment if you are drawing it before your scheme's normal pension age.

How do I apply for flexible retirement?

If you wish to explore flexible retirement, you are encouraged to give a minimum of 6 months’ notice to ensure that all the administrative arrangements can be made as appropriate.

The first step should be for the individual to explore with their pension scheme the financial elements and implications of flexible retirement. The USS website has some very useful guidance documentation and also a modeller which allows you to receive an estimate of your USS retirement benefits including an allowance for early retirement reductions. For more specific and detailed pension information from USS, please contact the Pensions Office who will facilitate your request for a personalised estimate. 

Members of UREPF can obtain an estimate by logging onto their BWebstream online account or by contacting the Pensions Office if you have not set up online access.

As well as exploring pension information, you may also require details of the impact of reducing your working hours on your salary. Your HR Operations Administrator will be able to provide this to you.

Once you get an initial indication on the level of pension benefits you may receive, the next stage is to discuss the request with your line manager, Head of Department/School or Function. You should allow as much time as you can for your request to be considered and implemented if approved. Your case will also be discussed with your HR Partner / Advisor who will support your manager in the decision making.

How will my case be considered?

As with all requests for flexible working, managers will be encouraged to be open to such suggestions, but employees must appreciate the constraints that might demand a refusal or modification of the request, such as:

  • The burden of additional costs
  • A detrimental effect on the ability to meet customer demand
  • The inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff
  • The inability to recruit additional staff
  • A detrimental impact on quality or performance
  • An inability to match the hours requested with sufficient work
  • Planned structural changes

What will happen if my request is approved?

The completed form (with an accompanying Staffing Request Form) will be sent from your line manager, Head of Department/School or Function to Human Resources (via the appropriate approval routes) where both the Pensions Office and HR Operations team will take the necessary action to change your contract of employment accordingly, and liaise with your pension provider. You will receive a letter confirming this.

Please note, the administrators for both USS and UREPF will need to receive your completed forms at least of 2 months' before your intended flexible retirement date in order to ensure that your retirement can be processed in time. With this in mind, individuals should allow sufficient time for the following process to take place and for the decisions to be considered fully.

What will happen if my request is refused?

The completed form will be sent from your line manager, Head of Department/School or Function to Human Resources where on receipt you will be sent a formal letter confirming the decision. If this occurs, you will have the right of appeal.